Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

I’ve been on an Anne of Green Gables kick this year and I really enjoyed reading the new novel, Marilla of Green Gables. I have loved the Anne of Green Gable series since I started reading it when I was twelve.  I’ve read and also own every book written by L.M. Montgomery including all of her short story collections.  I am a fan and had great expectations for this book.  Happily they were met. The book was written so that it seemed like it was another addition to the Anne series.   Marilla is a spirited young woman with dreams, but her dreams come to a standstill at the tragic death of her mother.  Will Marilla be able to find happiness and purpose in her life?

Marilla meets a new friend Rachel White at the start of the story and the two have great adventures together.  Rachel is from a wealthy family.  SPOILER ALERT:  I was shocked when Rachel ended up being Rachel Lynde.  Although it was the same first name, I didn’t realize it would be her! SPOILER END.

Neither Marilla nor Matthew had a happy love story in this novel.  It is better to have loved and lost then to never to have loved at all, or so it seems for both.  I loved the chemistry between Marilla and John Blythe and I was heartbroken when their love story did not work out – although I knew it would end up that way from the Anne stories.

I like how the book ended with Marilla longing for a child to love.  It was the perfect set up for the beginning of Anne of Green Gables.

The only outlier to the story for me involved escaped slaves.  While that part of the story had me on the edge of my seat, L.M.  Montgomery would not have written about this story, especially as it involved the love between an escaped slave and a white woman.  Otherwise the novel seemed just like a L.M. Montgomery novel to me.  It was an interesting twist to the story and I love how Marilla was “woke”’ on a trip into town with Rachel where she was confronted with the realities of slavery.  This seemed like a twist for the modern reader.

The author’s note was interesting.  The acknowledgements contained MANY of my favorite authors.  This got me thinking – do all my favorite authors hang out together? 

Overall, I loved Marilla of Green Gables and I highly recommend it to all my fellow Anne of Green Gables and L.M. Montgomery fans out there.

This book will be published on October 23rd!

Book Source: Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!

Red Sky in Mourning (Adrift): A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea by Tami Oldham Ashcraft with Susea McGearhart

Red Sky in Mourning is the August Book Club pick for the Rogue (aka FLICKS) Book Club.   It was made into a movie called Adrift earlier this summer.  This book is a memoir about American Tami Oldham and her British fiancĂ© Richard Sharp’s tragic last voyage together.  They had been paid to sail a yacht from Tahiti to San Diego, but along the way they hit a hurricane.  Richard sends Tami below and then she hears a scream and is knocked out.  When she awakens she discovers Richard is gone and she has no mast on the boat and no radio.  Using her navigational skills and knowledge of currents, will she be able to find her way to Hawaii, which is more than 1,000 miles away?

Red Sky in Mourning was an interesting story, although sad.  The story is told during Tami’s solitary journey where she hears a voice guiding her and flashes back to tell Tami and Richard’s love story.  I thought it was interesting that the book told about the aftermath including what to do with saltwater hair that hasn’t been brushed in over a month and meeting Richard’s family.  I was sad that the family didn’t really bond with Tami or realize the sentimental value of Richard’s boat to her. 

Our book club got into a discussion about the movie and how it differs from the book.  In the movie Richard is apparently alive and the source of the mysterious “voice” helping Tami out and it’s a surprise at the end that he is not alive.  I have yet to see the movie so maybe it works, but I think that takes away from the true horror that Tami faced when she awoke injured and alone.

Overall, Red Sky in Mourning was an interesting memoir of survival.

What is your favorite story of survival?

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully (TLC Book Tour)

Hotel on Shadow Lake is a mystery with its roots set during World War II.  Martha Weisberg starts as the narrator in 1990 when she receives a mysterious letter that was sent to her by her twin brother during WWII, but she is just now receiving due to a post office error. The book then flashes back to 1938 with her brother Wolfgang swept up by the Nazi movement while Martha has her serious doubts.  

The novel then flashes to 2017 to Martha’s granddaughter Maya.  Maya always wondered why her grandmother disappeared in 1990.  When her and her father get a call from America that her Grandmother’s body has been discovered and she was murdered, Maya takes a trip to America to see where her grandmother died and to try to help solve the murder.  She stays at the mysterious Montgomery Hotel next to Shadow Lake.  It is beautiful, but it holds many secrets.  Why was Martha in America?  Why was she murdered?  Will romance bloom between Maya and the mysterious Ben who is staying at the Montgomery Hotel?

Hotel on Shadow Lake was slow at first, but then I got into the mystery and read it quickly to its conclusion.  I enjoyed the WWII setting and learning about the terrible times in Germany.  That story read very well and was very disturbing.  It was a page turner, but I had some problems suspending my belief over a few of the plot lines which involved many of the main characters living to be over 100 years old.  The romance was supposed to be on for Maya and Ben, but Ben was acting very inconsistent and like an idiot during the last part of the novel.  I was not feeling the love between the two and it was key to the story.  Probably worst of all, the story hinged on a “wonderful” fairy tale that Martha and Hans shared and passed down to their descendants. I could barely read the fairy tale – it was odd and didn’t make much sense – and I love fairy tales!  The story was very readable and interesting, but I had to not think about some things too much.

I loved learning in the acknowledgements at the end of the book that this story was based on the author’s real grandmother and letters between her and her brother Wolfgang.  I wanted more on this real story – what was real and what was fiction on the WWII story?

Overall, Hotel on Shadow Lake was a page turning historical fiction / contemporary novel with a very interesting plot.  There are a few key points toward the end where the story was disjointed and requires a suspension of belief.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Find more stops on the tour at this link.  Thank-you for allowing me to be a part of the tour!